Zoolander: Jake Gyllenhaal almost played Hansel in the Ben Stiller comedy

Jake Gyllenhaal almost played Hansel in Ben Stiller's Zoolander

Excuse me, bra, would you like to hear some wild news about 2001’s Zoolander? Of course, you would. After all, who doesn’t like stories involving people who are really, really, ridiculously good-looking? What would you think if I told you that Jake Gyllenhaal was once considered for the role of Hansel in Zoolander? It’s true, and Ben Stiller thought his interpretation of the character was “really funny.”

In a new interview with Esquire celebrating the 20th anniversary of the film, Stiller revealed that Gyllenhaal almost starred as the blond-haired, acid-eating supermodel. To clarify, Owen Wilson was always Stiller’s first choice for the part, though at the time, it looked as if his schedule conflicted with Zoolander‘s filming plans. Due to the supposed conflict, Stiller was forced to hold auditions for the part of Hansel. As it turns out, many of the people who tried out for the part failed to impress, save for one, a young Jake Gyllenhaal.

“The only one that I remember clearly was a young Jake Gyllenhaal doing this wide-eyed version of Hansel that was really funny,” recalled Stiller. At the time, Gyllenhaal was just starting to make a name for himself after starring in October Sky. His next film was Donnie Darko, which essentially put him on the map. What would life be like in a world where Gyllenhaal starred opposite Stiller’s Derek Zoolander? We’ll never know, and maybe that’s a good thing all around.

During his chat with Esquire, Stiller also said that Andy Dick auditioned for the role of Mugatu, which ultimately went to Will Ferrell.

“Andy Dick was supposed to play Mugatu,” said Stiller, but then Dick had a scheduling conflict with a sitcom. “Now it’s impossible for me to picture anybody but Will doing it.”

As much as I enjoy Gyllenhaal, I can’t imagine anyone besides Wilson playing Hansel. His chemistry with Stiller and comedic timing in Zoolander is the stuff of legend and I’m glad things worked out the way they did. That said, I’d love to see Gyllenhaal’s audition tape for the part.

Do you think Gyllenhaal would have made for a good Hansel in Zoolander? Let us know in the comments section below.

Source: Esquire

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.